Many people know Eric Griffin merely for the dunk. If it weren't for the dunk, SLAM likely wouldn't have made the trek to Buies Creek to see him. Still, you'd think that it would have to get a little annoying that people only know you for that one play, right? You average 16 points, 8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game yet you're only known for one single play. For some it would frustrating. Eric Griffin tells us he welcomes it.
"It's a blessing that people know me for the dunk. After they see me for the dunk, it opens eyes up to the other parts of my game so it really is a blessing."
After only playing one season of high school basketball in Orlando, Griffin was left without a scholarship offer and was forced to head the JUCO route. While on a recruiting trip for another player at Garden City Community College in Kansas, Campbell assistant Brian Burg was blown away by the raw, lanky power forward. Griffin already had his mind made up that he was "going to commit to the first D-1 program that offered" him, regardless of distance, and the rest is history.
Once at Campbell, Griffin worked diligently on his game. Many of the nuances of D-1 college basketball were new to him, but the length and athleticism that he possessed were unlike any player that the (Big South) had to offer. He played power forward for the Camels and had an outstanding season, but feels that he is more of a small forward and is planning to shock teams with his ability to do work from the perimeter. Shortly after getting back from the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament in which he put in work against many of the top seniors in the country, we were invited to go watch him workout at Campbell along with the coach who recruited him, Brian Burg.
From the second that he walks in the gym, you can't help but be taken back with the length that Griffin possesses. At 6-8 with a 7-1 wingspan and weighing 200 pounds, he's drawn many comparisons to another slender athlete doing work in the NBA, Utah's Jeremy Evans. Though he played power forward in college and many (myself included) see him as more of a face-up power forward, Coach Burg put him through a perimeter workout to continue to shore up his outside game.
Burg started off by having his star senior shoot a number of mid-range jumpers, both from a standstill and off the dribble. Looking more comfortable shooting the ball after putting the ball on the deck, you could see some of the raw perimeter skills that haven't quite been refined yet. As the shooting drills expanded to NBA 3-point range, Griffin continued to shoot the ball better and better. Though it may seem wild, EG had better results shooting the rock from beyond the NBA arc than he did from mid-range. It wasn't a fluke either, as seen by the pair of 3s he hit in the first half of one of his games at Portsmouth.
As the workout went on, Coach Burg went through a series of rebounding drills in which he had Griffin get a rebound and explode right back up for a dunk to give us an idea of how special of an athlete he is. A better leaper off of one foot that two, we were still able to catch the potential that his dude has on the defensive end with his package of length and athleticism. Griffin finished things off with a little dunk show for us and even attempted to reenact the dunk.
Looking towards the Draft, Griffin is currently sitting on that dreaded fence of being drafted or undrafted. His athleticism, ability to shoot the ball from deep, and versatility to defend multiple positions will definitely make him intriguing to NBA teams as a second round pick. The fact that he was only played organized basketball for five years serves as both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, he is still learning many nuances of the game. On the other, he is a bit of a blank canvas because of the fact that he hasn't been exposed to that sort of teaching yet. If he were to go undrafted, Griffin is an ideal candidate for the D-League to fine tune his skills to the point of potentially making an NBA roster. Griffin feels that he's got one intangible that will sell him to NBA teams, though.
"The best thing I bring to a team is my motor," he says. "I just keep hustling and keep going and going and going. I can block shots, rebound, and I can really defend multiple positions."